How IR Affects Small Business

The International Integrated Reporting Framework was released by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) in December 2013. Since then, companies around the world have been working to implement the Framework to more cohesively and efficiently report on their ability to creat value over the short, medium and long term. So how does that impact small businesses within the larger picture? I asked Brad Monterio, managing director of Colcomgroup and vice chair of IMA’s Technology Solutions & Practices Committee, about Integrated Reporting (<IR>) and what small business owners should expect for the future.

LDM: What can <IR> do for small businesses?Quotes-03-02-15
BM: <IR> benefits businesses of all sizes. As popularity grows for <IR> around the world, a common misperception is that it’s only for the largest companies or publicly traded companies. The purpose behind <IR> is to provide a way to tell a company’s unique story to stakeholders; link its business strategy to its business model; and report how it will create value over the short, medium, and long term.

LDM: Are there any downfalls?
BM: As companies become more familiar with the <IR> Framework from the IIRC, there will be less of a learning curve for them. <IR> is an evolved way of looking at not only how the company reports information to stakeholders but how it operates internally. This manifests through a culture of integrated thinking where the areas of the business work more collaboratively toward its goals, which is a shift in dynamic for many small businesses. The shift takes time to adjust to.

LDM: Small businesses have fewer staff and smaller revenue pools than large companies. Could that potentially hold them back from integrating <IR>?
BM: <IR> isn’t intended to increase the reporting burden; in fact, quite the opposite. It’s designed to help improve and streamline the disclosure process (to make reporting better, not bigger). Leveraging existing disclosure vehicles, such as financial statements and annual reports, to communicate <IR> information helps smaller businesses. A culture of integrated thinking will help businesses collaborate internally and be more efficient with their resources as well as how they share information, reducing redundancies.

LDM: Why is <IR> important for small businesses?
BM: <IR> has many benefits and outcomes, including keeping pace with or surpassing competitors. But those aren’t the only reasons to undertake a transition to <IR>. Linking the company strategy and business model to how a company uses all of its resources in that business model Quote2-03-02-15helps a company more clearly understand what’s happening inside its business. This means they can more accurately portray what’s happening to stakeholders outside their business and communicate their value more effectively.

LDM: What else do small-business leaders need to know about <IR>?
BM: <IR> isn’t sustainability reporting as you might see with GRI or CSR reports. Sustainability reports look at both financial and nonfinancial information but don’t typically go as far as an integrated report in linking strategy and business model to future economic value. Additionally, actual accounting standards for sustainability topics in the market require companies to report on material nonfinancial matters. This helps streamline the reports and bring comparability to this content in all types of reports.

MORE WAYS TO LEARN
If you’re an IMA member, you can participate in a webinar that Brad is moderating on March 10 called “Integrated Reporting and Integrated Thinking: Which Comes First?” – which is part of IMA’s new Tech Talk series. If you aren’t a member, read his article “Integrated Reporting: A Chat with the Experts” from Strategic Finance. You can also read more on the Technology Solutions & Practices Committee’s LinkUp community.

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE

 

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A CEO’s Reading List

Becoming a CEO isn’t the end of the highway—it just means you’ve made it to the expressway. It’s the beginning of another journey. You count on more people, and more people count on you to make the right decisions and do the right thing. You influence a broader audience and become a primary face of the organization.

With this dynamic role comes more responsibility and challenges, and continuous learning and growth are vital to keep pace. You can get certifications, go to conferences and seminars, or travel the world to meet new people and learn about their best practices. Another way to learn and grow is through reading. These are the most influential books I’ve read that have helped me shape IMA into the organization it is today, one that we are all proud of in terms of its contribution to enrich careers, organizations, and the public interest.

My Top 5 Books

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Trust, Inc. by Barbara Brooks Kimmel taught me how to be a more responsible leader and to lead with integrity and trust as a table stake for performance and culture. The book is full of case studies about what works and what doesn’t. Being transparent is important for a business to succeed. I had the honor of authoring a chapter in this book.

 

 

 

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21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell taught me how to build followership—the great teams and board of directors with whom you work with every day. If you trust, empower, and enrich people, they will follow you, respect you, and trust you in return. And, in effect, they won’t be afraid of expressing their true feelings and opinions, which leads to the next book.

 

 

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Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott talks about having open and honest conversations with active listening skills. A responsible leader listens to his or her team’s opinions, even if they are in disagreement, and opens the lines of communication. The extremes of shy agreement or bullying disagreement just don’t work.

 

 

 

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A Sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter taught me to not rest on my laurels. If you want change to happen, you have to act immediately with a sense of urgency. Be open to change and adapt to the new environment. A CEO must be flexible in a changing world.

 

 

 

The Advantage: WhThe-Advantagey Organization Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick M. Lencioni emphasizes the importance of a cohesive leadership team and a strong, clear vision of the future. It’s easy and fun to read because Lencioni writes in a narrative format that’s very relatable.

 

 

 

 

Live the Lessons

You would think your summer reading list would end at graduation, but reading is one of the easiest ways to continuously learn. The lessons I’ve learned from these books have helped me on my journey as IMA’s President and CEO. I’ve implemented many of these lessons into IMA’s business culture, and all staff and IMA volunteers live by these standards as it is our duty to our members and the global profession.

Which books are currently on your reading list? What are some lessons you’ve learned through reading?

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

 

 

 

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What Exactly Is a Professor In Residence?

If you’re asking yourself, “What is a Professor in Residence (PIR)?” you aren’t alone. I get this question often, as my role is a bit more ambiguous than, say, a lawyer’s or teacher’s job. Typically, a PIR works at a university or college and facilitates research, teaching, public service, and other activities. But my position within a nonprofit organization is unique, dynamic, and provides so much more.

spider's web with dew drops backgroundAcademic Liaison
I joined IMA in 2006 as Director of Research after having been a college professor for quite a number of years. Three years later, I was asked to also assume the role of IMA’s PIR. I accepted, as this was an opportunity to advance the management accounting profession by connecting with students and faculty around the world and draw on my extensive academic experience to design programs aimed at meeting this market’s very unique needs.

I work with IMA to achieve these goals by helping prepare the next generation of finance and accounting professionals who will work in business. One way we do that is through our CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program. Another is by supporting faculty teaching and research efforts.

With that in mind, one program I created that helps academics stay connected is IMA’s Campus Advocate program. Having taught at a school where I was essentially the only faculty member interested in teaching management accounting, I saw a need for a program that enabled faculty interested in management accounting education to network, ask questions, and share best practices.

Student Development
Of course, students – the future of our profession – are a key part of the picture. I’ve been able to develop several programs with the goal of ensuring that students are adequately prepared for their future roles. A key consideration has been the realization that every school has differing programs, goals, and resources, so it’s important that IMA offer a variety of programs from which to choose.fresh springs isolated

The IMA Accounting Honor Society, to be launched in March, will recognize high-achieving accounting students. Not solely restricted to students interested in management accounting, I see this society as a way of recognizing and encouraging students to pursue the diverse and rewarding careers available in the accounting profession.

Advocate for the Profession
Being IMA’s PIR has enabled me to advocate for IMA and the management accounting profession. I get to interact with people all over the world who are passionate about the future of the organization and the profession. I find this aspect of the position very rewarding, in addition to the ability to help students find the career path that is best for them.

Regardless of whether or not a student initially pursues a public accounting career, more than 75% of all accountants end up pursuing careers in management accounting. To this end I formed a Joint Curriculum Task Force with the Management Accounting Section (MAS) of the American Accounting Association (AAA), which I chair. Our Task Force has developed an Accounting Education Framework that addresses these diverse education needs and has helped inform other curricular initiatives.

Changing Your Role
The combination of passion and talent led me to my position at IMA. You, too, could get so much more out of your position. Don’t be afraid to add to your job description or expand your perspective. There’s a wide variety of career options out there for you, many of which you may never have even considered!

What aspects of your current role would you change if you had the opportunity?

Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson

 

 

Related Links:

IMA Student and Academic Members Page – IMA
Faculty Titles Directory – Temporary Non-Track Positions – University of Connecticut

Top 3 Benefits of Advocacy

Advocacy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” For nonprofit associations, in particular, advocacy and relationships with other influential organizations is of utmost importance. You can show your advocacy by writing articles and comment letters or taking part in meetings with standard setters, giving a voice to your membership.

Advocacy demonstrates an organization’s dedication, loyalty, and passion for a cause that may be the heartbeat of its members. Advocacy provides many benefits for organizations, but here’s what I chose as the top three.

Protect Member InterestsiStock_000015030984_Large_green
There are a number of ways to protect your stakeholders’ interests, in turn creating trust. For one, sending out research surveys helps your organization get a pulse of what members need and want and help provide appropriate products and services to specific locales. This also expands your reach and opens up new markets for your organization.

In addition, you can create committees dedicated to advocating for your cause that will give your membership a voice. These committees are at the forefront of the cause that gauge stakeholder interest through meetings and voice those opinions to standard setters. This creates trust among members, and when members trust their organization, they become loyal and more engaged in the organization’s volunteer community.

Increase in Volunteer Engagement
If your organization has loyal members and is advocating for their interests, chances are that interest in becoming a volunteer will grow. IMA’s Financial Reporting Committee, Small Business Financial and Regulatory Affairs Committee, Technology Solutions and Practices Committee, and Committee on Ethics are made up of volunteer leaders who increasingly advocate for best practices in the management accounting profession through articles in Strategic Finance and IMA Online News.

The increase in member engagement will help you retain members by giving them the opportunity to have their voices heard and creating an atmosphere of unity and commitment to a common cause. Then you’ll be able to rely more on volunteers around the world to advocate for your cause.

Volunteers are essential for running a nonprofit organization, and reminding them of how valuable they are is equally as important since they are the feet on the street that keeps your organization running.

iStock_000024796735LargeBuild Partnerships and Alliances
When you connect with other organizations, you strengthen your foothold in the industry and make your voice of advocacy stronger. To create partnerships, research organizations that advocate for similar causes, have a similar membership base, and are in a similar industry.

Draw upon these alliances when writing comment letters to take advantage of the power of numbers. Representatives from large firms can all address the same issues, but the letter will be stronger if all the firms collaborate on it together. This will help your organization determine the future of your industry or cause.

Advance Your Cause
When I came on board with IMA, my position as Director of Professional Advocacy was newly created. As time went on, we realized the need for a full-time liaison between IMA’s technical committees and IMA members. So my position evolved to fill a need in the marketplace, and I’m proud of the committees we’ve created to increase our advocacy on behalf of IMA membership.

All nonprofit organizations should create advocacy groups to advance their cause. Providing opportunities to give input will give your members a voice in the industry. And working with partner organizations and loyal members-turned-volunteers strengthens your advocacy voice around the globe.

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA

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Inside Insider Networking

The benefits of networking with peers outside your organization are many, but making connections with those who have similar interests and work at similar companies is only the first step in building a network. Now think internally: How can you leverage the inside network of your current company? Your coworkers are just as valuable to have in your network. This may sound obvious, but many of us (including me) don’t step outside the comfort of our own work teams often enough.

What Is Inside Networking?
Inside networking is when you build connections with your coworkers to create value within your company, which in turn can help you advance your career. Many professionals turn to outside contacts for research and advice, but connecting with people who know your company from within can be beneficial in many ways. You can gain insight into projects that other departments are working on, advice on projects you’re working on, and knowledge about a specific product or service you might have questions about.

iStock_000002214189_LargeNot only will you learn more about your company’s products and services, but you’ll also open lines of communication between departments. Use this to your advantage to work cross-functionally. In talking about your day-to-day job, you might realize that a tool that someone else is using might also help in your work. In turn, this might help you learn new analytic skills, for example.

Another benefit to connecting with your coworkers is learning about what they actually do. A job title might be misleading, or the job description might have changed silently. Knowing about others’ day-to-day work is helpful if you need assistance with a specific project, ultimately smoothing company processes.

How Do You Start?
Try to connect with people at all levels of your company, but you can start by getting to know the people who work closest to you and in departments around you. If you usually eat lunch at your desk, ask a coworker or a group of coworkers to eat with you. During a meeting, sit at a table with people you’ve never met or talked to before to get to know them and learn about their perspectives.

At IMA Headquarters, we have a café space where we eat lunch and hold meetings. Staff take advantage of this open space to participate in interdepartmental mingling and getting to know their colleagues. This fosters the feeling of unity and becoming a tight-knit team.

Don’t be intimidated to talk to your superiors. If they don’t walk around the office often or make many public appearances, request a face-to-face meeting to get noticed. This may lead to a nomination to join a leadership committee or even to a promotion. Taking the initiative to connect with people on the chain of command will highlight your personality attributes and can help you grow.

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A Benefit For You and Your Company
Inside networking can help you grow both personally and professionally as you expand your network, develop stronger communication and team skills, and plan your future. It will also be a benefit to your organization as you become a more valuable employee with cross-functional connections. For some, inside networking may seem daunting because stepping out of their comfort zone to network with colleagues is something new, but taking that next step can pay off greatly for you in the future.

How are you leveraging your inner network? Do you connect with people in your company who you don’t see often?

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE
Follow me on twitter: @IMA_DWhitney

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Global Family, Local Roots

Whether you work for a for-profit or nonprofit organization, like IMA, which I lead as CEO, it’s a challenge to be relevant and valued in serving diverse needs and cultures around the globe. A starting point is to have a global network, a family or community if you will, for sharing common needs, advocacy, and values at a broader societal level but also to make sure that you “sprout” local roots in serving unique needs in specific markets. Both are necessary for
global and local market relevance, but, as is the way of business, it’s often easier said than done.

Big wool skeinGlobal Family
Most global organizations are networks of offices spread throughout the world. The headquarters serves the global membership from a central location(s) and communicates with its individual locales to serve their local needs, demonstrate the highest standards of integrity and professional ethics, and serve the public interest.

One way your organization can achieve this is by being involved with standard-setting bodies or advisory panels. Your organization will have a voice in the decisions shaping its industry and will, therefore, affect your stakeholders. And once you become a part of these bodies, make sure to maintain an ongoing dialog and active participation.

For example, IMA is involved with a variety of influential bodies. We’re currently a full voting member of the IFAC (International Federation of Accountants), which has helped us increase our global influence and relevance on matters of public policy, support for emerging economies, standards (e.g., accounting, education, and ethics), and best practices. Recently we were named a full voting member of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), which focuses on corporate reporting and analysis for internal and external stakeholders.

Local Roots
As organizations are becoming increasingly global, they can’t overlook the value of in-person connections to sustain the growth of engagement with the organization. Some nonprofits, like IMA, offer their members local chapter groups that provide a personal, in-person experience for networking, best practices sharing, and continuous learning and growth. Understanding local needs in a genuine and intense manner and how they may vary from “the corporate template” is key to local engagement with your global network of products and services.

strings attached - JTTo connect your global organization to its local members or staff, think about their needs and how you can address them within the local area. For IMA, our chapters serve as our local roots to communicate the universal language of business but with different needs, customs, and cultures specific to each region. Other global organizations host periodic global summits or board meetings, provide online forums for discussion, or offer volunteer opportunities to engage their stakeholders.

In turn, these chapters and local community groups foster the need for volunteers. They devote their time and talent to spread the word about the organization and are the link between their global network and the people they serve. Volunteers make serving the mission of the organization possible, particularly in a nonprofit, through their ambassadorship.

A Time of Thanks and an Inspiring Look Forward
This is the time of year when organizations of all types reflect on the strides they’ve made and hold aspirations for the future. This year, IMA has been advancing the management accounting profession by becoming more active in joining global bodies, and I’m proud of IMA’s growing community of volunteers and chapters around the world–truly a global family with local roots. But, like any family with diverse needs and backgrounds, it’s an ongoing challenge to be aligned on a common purpose.

I’m personally grateful for IMA’s global community of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to create stronger organizations and a better society. IMA’s volunteers are truly a competitive asset for the organization. We’re fortunate to have a network of more than 300 student and professional chapters to learn, grow, and contribute.

How is your organization dealing with the challenges and opportunities of being globally relevant? What are some of the approaches that have worked and some new approaches you may try in 2015?

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

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Technology-In-Residence: The Evolving Role of the Traveling Professional

As IMA VP of Research & Policy and Professor-in-Residence, I travel a lot to our offices in China, the Middle East, and Europe as well as to conferences around the world. But I manage to stay connected to IMA Global Headquarters in New Jersey via technology – something that has increasingly made an impact on the business world. The increased global need for connectedness is fuelling the development of technology and changing how we use it and where we do business.

The Changing Landscapetravel
Technology has drastically changed how and where we do business since I started working at IMA in 2006. That first year I traveled extensively around China, working on our study of management accounting in the country. At that time, my technological options were limited, and it was a challenge to keep in touch with the office and my family. Now when I travel, I make sure to pack my tablet, smartphone, and laptop, which – together with my mobile hotspot – ensure I can work and stay connected at all times.

Social media is also now playing a larger role in business, bringing us closer to business partners around the globe, exposing us to new markets in various countries, and increasing customer engagement. I’ve also started tweeting this past year (follow me at @RaefLawson) and recently participated in Twitter chats regarding accounting education, which engaged audiences from around the world. It’s proving to be a great way to quickly exchange information with others.

Where We Do Business
Since I’ve joined IMA our association has transformed from being a U.S. association to a global one. We now conduct research globally, enabling us to source the best talent from around the world while providing more relevant and insightful research to our global members. Technology helps us better serve our members, and that is of paramount importance.

Advances in technology provide the opportunity for members of my team to work remotely and still be connected to home base. Cloud technology and other data-sharing programs help ensure our research team can stay in touch and work collaboratively no matter where we are.

How Business Is Conducted
Of course, technology can be both a benefit and a curse, depending on whether it is appropriately used and if appropriate limits exist. It seems like we’re all now constantly connected with our devices, and business – especially now that IMA is global – has become 24/7. Because we’re increasingly working from home or on location, it has become more difficult to shut off our work devices. This “digital office” allows us to tablet, phonecollaborate through e-mail, Skype, and other platforms to successfully complete our work in a timely manner.

The way we do research has also changed. The days of paper-based surveys are pretty much gone as the development of online survey tools has made conducting surveys much easier and more effective. The cost of distributing surveys has been slashed (or eliminated) as has the cost of getting data ready for analysis.

Looking to the Future
Going forward, it’s clear that performance expectations will rise as competition increases and technology evolves. At IMA we’re working hard to upgrade our technology in an effective manner in order to ensure that we can adequately serve our expanding, more diverse membership. This will help us not only produce more research of use to our members but also more value to them throughout the organization.

Where do you think technology will be in the next 5-10 years? How has social media changed the way you do business at your company?

Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson

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